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Unearthing a passion for archaeology


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An elementary school field trip can change the trajectory of a young life. That rings true for a group of sixth-graders from Aliamanu Elementary who found themselves on a journey that would change their views on future careers and spark newfound passions. And it all began with a Spring 2024 visit to a Dean Hall lab with James M. Bayman, a UH Mānoa archaeologist and Anthropology professor.

Bayman knows firsthand how the power of a single moment can set you on a new course in life. As a young explorer, a curiosity about nature and fascination with ancient societies and cultures were enriched by his discovery of a remote archaeology site. “It was enchanting to find a place where past people lived their lives,” said Bayman.

Now he is paying it forward and sharing the joys and wonders of his field with a new generation of students.

The visit to the lab provided an interactive learning experience in archaeological research for Aliamanu Elementary’s sixth-graders, who were studying ancient Mesopotamia.

“Our sixth-grade students have worked hard to research the artifacts to understand how it told about history. For our students to be able to engage with real artifacts of history is an experience many would not have had without the help of Professor Bayman – and for that we are truly grateful,” said Sandra Yoshimi, Aliamanu Elementary principal.

Armed with calipers and scales, students analyzed artifacts, noting weights, measurements and colors. After recording their findings, they participated in a critical analysis exercise that touched on how the artifacts might have been used by ancient civilizations in their hunting, cooking and eating practices.

“I thought archaeology was the study of bones of ancient creatures and the geography of pyramids and jungle sites. I learned that it also includes the study of small things like arrowheads, which were used by ancient people for hunting,” marveled one student. Added another, “I thought archaeology was like the science you see in movies, like mixing chemicals and stuff, but it is a lot more. I would 100 percent want to become an archaeologist now.”

The Archaeology Program is in the Department of Anthropology in the College of Social Sciences.

Additional news stories from the College of Social Sciences.

Professor Bayman and Aliamanu Elementary students.
Professor Bayman explaining the archaeological process to Aliamanu Elementary students.
Elementary student documenting the size, weight, color of artifacts.
Student documenting the size, weight, color of artifacts.
Elementary student analyzing the color of an artifact.
Student analyzing the color of an artifact.
Elementary student exploring the world through a microscope.
Student exploring the world through a microscope.